Streelman, Weeks & Dietz help turn practice green into a game arena
When you have time to practice your golf game, how much time do you spend on the range compared to the putting green?
If you are like many, it's probably a 10-1 ratio in favor of the range.
Because banging driver after driver is a whole lot more fun than trying to sink 100 three-footers.
Well, this year -- once they are open -- why not try something different and transform the practice green into a game arena by performing entertaining, purpose-driven drills?
Don't be short!
The first game comes courtesy of Cog Hill teaching pro Kevin Weeks, who believes every practice putt should mean something.
Start by placing tees 3 feet beyond the hole, then walk off a 10-footer and hit three putts. If every attempt gets to the hole but does not go past the tees, move to 20 feet. If you're successful again, move to 30 feet. And so on until you're successful from 50 feet.
If at any time only two of three attempts succeed, you must stay at that distance. If only one of three qualifies, you must move up 10 feet. If you're 0-for-2 and the third attempt goes in the hole, you can stay at that spot.
"That way every ball counts," Weeks said. "One of my adult students nicknamed it 'the mother of all drills.' Sometimes it'll take 25, 30 minutes; sometimes it takes an hour, an hour and a half. But it keeps you mentally engaged in what you're doing.
"Once you reach a certain level, practice is more mental than it is physical."
PGA Tour pro Kevin Streelman, who grew up in Wheaton, has a similar drill where he puts tees at 15, 30, 45, 60 and 75 feet. Hit each putt once, trying to get the ball just a foot or two past the tee.
"Then when you get on the course, you just have tap-ins all day for your next putt," Streelman said. "It saves people so many strokes.
"Great putters are so aware of speed. It's all I think about. Everything comes from speed."
And the best part about this drill is you don't need a hole.
"Just putt to the tees," Streelman said. "You can stay out of people's way who are trying to make 50-footers who are never going to make that putt."
Confidence is key
Streelman is adamant that amateurs shouldn't just plop balls onto a green and start trying to drain lengthy putts.
"If you're going to practice putting, do it on putts you should be making -- 3-6 footers," he said. "If you sit there and hit 12-footers -- which statistically the best putter in the world's only going to make 30% of those -- you're probably going to make 5, 10 percent. You're going to be missing nine out of 10 putts. That's not really good for your confidence.
"So sit around the cup where you're banging them in one after the other. Two feet. Then go to 3 feet. Then to 4 feet."
I used to hit 100 3-footers and kept track of how many I made, but realized I was still having issues with those knee-knockers on the course.
So a couple of years ago, I started rolling 6-footers and found it really grooved my swing.
Turn it into a game by putting a tee down at 6 feet and see how long it takes you to make 10 in a row. Hit three balls at a time, retrieve them and try to make the next three.
You'll really feel the pressure after making 7, 8 ... and then 9 straight. I've finished in 30 minutes, but it's also taken me an hour. When it's over, your confidence will soar, and it will definitely carry over to the course.
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